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The kinder truth

I’m paralyzed, I thought with mounting panic after slipping on a South Korean stairwell.

I couldn’t move my arm. Not even a twitch.

But, wait

I could move everything else, so I probably wasn’t actually paralyzed.

I quickly ran through countless ridiculous scenarios on that stairwell before remembering my martial arts studies. At least a couple of students had dislocated toes in class. Our instructor had kindly relocated them with a count followed by a shove.

Maybe I’d just dislocated my shoulder in the fall?

I placed my functional hand on my immobile upper arm before quickly wrenching it up and inward. I didn’t feel much, immediately, but the sound! It was a gruesome melding of crunch and squish.

I soon tried moving my arm.

It worked.

I climbed the rest of the way to my top-floor room slowly, slippers in hand, and wondered who the hell thought marble stairwells were a good idea.

My arm ached mildly by the time I reached my room.

It was full blown agony by the time my next class began. But there was no way I was visiting a foreign hospital with only my boss, whose horns and cloven feet had become apparent to me my second week there.

I downed some over the counter painkillers and went about my day, using my left hand for as many tasks as I could. It was excruciating trying to raise my right arm more than a couple of inches.

The pain mostly subsided within a week. Occasionally, echoes of it would return on my longer runs, but the echoes always subsided by the time I kicked off my shoes.

So it was that when my then-future husband once complained, “I think I dislocated my shoulder!” over the phone, I failed to show satisfactory levels of concern.

“Okay, so pop it back in,” I told him.

I don’t even remember our conversation afterward. It wasn’t noteworthy to me.

But I sure do remember how my then-future husband later linked my response to the many-month rough patch we went through afterward.

“‘So pop it back in?’ That was the best you could do?” he finally demanded.

“What?! That’s what you do with a dislocated shoulder!”

“You could’ve been a little more concerned!”

“I was concerned, a little!”

I think of that now when my older son gets a scrape and howls as if the world is ending.

Son, you are not going to die from that, is what I want to say. Objectively, it’s totally true.

But objective truth doesn’t ease pain. So instead of saying, “You are not going to die from that,” I pull my son close and hug him until he feels better.

“I’m sorry it hurts,” I say.

It’s also the truth;

the kinder one.

Hiding the text of his second note

  1. May 22, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    You are hard core. Relocating your own dislocated shoulder? Yikes.

    • May 22, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      I think of it more as a sign of my hardcore introversion. The thought of hours more with lots of intensive people interaction, with people not even beloved to me, seemed much more torturous than any physical pain. I think I’d probably choose the same way again now … just maybe with earplugs in!

  2. May 22, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I don’t know if I’d do it right. I’d be worried I’d cause more damage. 🙂

    We tell the kids all the time, “Suck it up.” (or you can’t soccer…or you can’t play baseball…oh, guess you can’t ride your bike.)

    Except the time my son was 5 and fell down the last 5 stairs and smacked his chin onto the hard tile and required stitches. That was an ouchie. OH, yes I think we need to go to the walk in and that’s going to be a few stitches.

    I can see my husband would have been mad at me- too. 🙂

    • May 23, 2015 at 4:55 am

      OUCH! Littler J is drawn to stairs–anything elevated–in a way his older brother never was. I had to get stitches three times as a kid, a path I could easily see J following.

      There is definitely something to be said for D’s at-most-costs pain aversion!

      • May 23, 2015 at 7:45 am

        Yup. Well, you know, this condition that G has been diagnosed with (DCD), he was never incredibly clumsy, but he’s always been “awkward” – he’s heavy on his feet, runs flat footed (we’re trying to get him training) and some of his movements are kind of mechanical- like he’s thinking about some things… like in sports, moves are slower in motion, thinking each step. (when it needs to be quick)

        Well, that day- he was young- he had flip flops on and I think didn’t hit the stair right going down… and fell forward and couldn’t catch himself. I think he was more off balance due to the DCD. I’m surprised he hasn’t had more accidents. He’s a tough boy, so maybe he has had things, but not tell me.

        My daughter is like D. Overly-cautious. I’m not going to do “said” activity- don’t know what’s on the other side of that bouncy house mentality. She hated strangers until like 3 and you could NOT get her to do new things without watching first for a very long time or subsequent visits.

  3. May 22, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Hard-hearted Hannah here too. And I so understand wanting to avoid the hospital and the people in it if at all possible.
    I love your kinder truth as well. Something I need to remember.

    • May 23, 2015 at 5:02 am

      I have to remind myself fairly often right now. As Li’l D cries, I remember all the times I was in this childhood accident or that and shrugged it off and occasionally wonder of Li’l D, Did you really come from me?! Of course he did, but he also came from his dad, who is comfortable describing himself as “tender.” 🙂

      Good (and snuggly) experiential learning for me!

  4. May 22, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post and enjoyed reflecting on the subtlties of communication. I have had issues over the years where the kids think an injury of symptom is going to kill them because their knowledge of what does kill you was limited. I’ve had a severe illness almost all their lives and so they are used to illness being serious. We get calls from labs and it’s off to Emergency or specialist. With me there isn’t much gray in between. Hence, we have a lt of near-death scenes and then both children do have some on going potentially ser4ious health issues a\so it does get quite perplexing especially when it comes to staying home from school. This is when I’ve been accused of being “mean” but when something is ongoing, they just have to go to school when they’re not 100%.

    • May 23, 2015 at 5:05 am

      That is a lot to manage. We had a much, much lesser version of that when D’s food issues really came to light a few months back. Trying to explain why he had to go to school despite stomach issues was … well, I would not say I was successful by any measure.

      • May 23, 2015 at 6:17 am

        It is hard being a parent at times isn’t it?!! Thank goodness for my blog and being able to connect with people like yourself all around the world and for all different reasons. I’m quite partial t travel blogs for a bit of escape. Actually, I like people exploring their locale, which is like travelling for me. I also do read quite a lot of medical and survivor type posts too.
        Hope you are having a great weekend xx Rowena

  5. May 22, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    You’re one brave woman! 🙂

    • May 23, 2015 at 5:06 am

      I don’t know about that! I wasn’t quite in my right mind at the time, operating at almost an animalistic level. 🙂

  6. May 23, 2015 at 1:28 am

    My martial arts instructor used to say that a little bit of pain never hurt anyone… The idiot.

  7. May 23, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  8. May 24, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I actually understand this one. Terrible of me, but I giggled, a little.

  9. May 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Hey Deb;

    Great post.
    It’s funny how roles change, subconsciously. I find, when we are on our own or have someone weaker depending on us we become the hero. When someone else wants to be the hero and we are happy to let that happen, then we are cared for. I remember once I had our three boys and a couchsurfer under my wing, it was late and we missed the last bus to where the car was parked. the children were tired so I said, you guys wait here and I will walk the three kilometres to the car and pick you up. It was fine, no problem. But I realised that if my husband had been there, he would have done the walking and I the waiting.

    We think of ourselves in a relationship of equality but in the end, even if you take turns, someone has to take the lead or be the hero – not because the other can’t do it but because it makes them feel needed and loved.

    So yes. We have had this scenario too. You didn’t say anything wrong in a practical sense and yes, likewise, I have been in harder situations when my husband showed little sympathy but there is a kinder truth. Spot on. 🙂

  10. May 26, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    LOL, I signed a permission form so my son could give blood, even though he is under age. It’s important to me. It’s important to him. Today he texted me a picture with his arm wrapped, and I excitedly texted back “Congrats! How was the first time?” He mentioned he might have almost passed out. Which I laughed off – he is my son after all, and we don’t pass out after giving blood. Then I discovered that he almost fainted whilst giving blood. And I told him that I couldn’t understand how that could happen, how do you almost faint while laying down?!? And then I remembered that I was supposed to also show kindness and love and followed up with the “is every thing okay? did they check your BP afterwards? did you get a good lunch in you?” 🙂 He’s good.

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